Celebrating Hamptons Celebrities: Tovah Feldshuh

Tovah Feldshuh
Tovah Feldshuh

My husband (NY attorney Andrew Levy) and I bought in Quogue because he didn’t want to go beyond the end of the four-lane highway,” is how actress/singer Tovah Feldshuh describes it. “We love East Hampton — but the difference is 90 minutes! We live near a farm with some open land. Our place looks like a ’50s-retro decorating spree with furniture from our late parents. It’s low-key, adorable, with everything we need nearby like Riverhead and Tanger Mall. In Quogue, we’re still ‘in the Hamptons.’”

“As a child, we had a bungalow in Long Beach. I’ve loved Long Island for a long time! When in Quogue (otherwise living on Central Park West, Manhattan), I swim a mile a day in the ocean and do Pilates. I’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, ice glaciers in Iceland and tracked gorillas in Rwanda. I’ve visited over 90 countries.”

During COVID downtime, Feldshuh wrote a book about “mother, daughter and other roles I’ve played,” Lilyville (Hachette).

Several weeks ago, she participated in a play reading, The Soap Myth at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton.

This past June, Feldshuh received rave reviews for her one-character show at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater, Becoming Dr. Ruth, based on the iconic sex therapist Ruth Westheimer. Because of the production’s momentum, Bay Street plans to bring it to Manhattan’s Safra Hall in the Museum of Jewish Heritage, starting December 4.

Opening night of Bay Street Theater's "Becoming Dr. Ruth" with Artistic Director Scott Schwartz, Dr. Ruth K Westheimer,  Tovah Feldshuh and Executive Director Tracy Mitchell
Opening night of Bay Street Theater’s “Becoming Dr. Ruth” with Artistic Director Scott Schwartz, Dr. Ruth K Westheimer, Tovah Feldshuh and Executive Director Tracy MitchellCourtesy Tovah Feldshuh

Feldshuh will be performing in a two-character play, Sisters in Law about the lives of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I went to the Supreme Court to observe Justice Ginsburg. I met with her twice, and I attended two dinners with her.”

Feldshuh has just started Armageddon Time, a new movie shooting in NYC, where she plays Anthony Hopkins’ wife.

And she has resumed live, in-person performances, traveling to the Lauderdale section of Florida with several musical concerts based on the life of Leona Helmsley. “My journey just took me into many Jewish-themed roles. I am a classically trained actress from the Tyrone Guthrie Theater — with abundant Shakespeare including Stratford and at San Diego’s National Shakespeare Festival.”

Originally Terri Sue Feldshuh, a boyfriend at Sarah Lawrence College urged her to change her name to Tovah, which she did at age 18. (The “h” at the end denotes a covenant with God.) “Since I am now on Medicare, when I visit the doctor, I am Terri Sue again. What’s in a name? Names are a way of short-cutting your perception of another person. Your moniker carries a message with it whether it is Abraham Lincoln, or Joe Biden instead of Joseph Biden because he wants to be close to the American people … or Tovah Feldshuh perceived as a European, Israeli, Orthodox and an expert in Judaism. I was none of those things, rather a cheerleader at the Quaker Ridge School in Scarsdale. But I have been a very diligent student,” she says.

“As fate would take it, I went from holding spears at the Guthrie along with understudying all of the size-seven leading ladies, to being on the marquee of the O’Neill Broadway Theatre as Yentl 18 months after I left the Guthrie at age 23! It was a very lucky break where my name helped me get a role. After that big Broadway role as Yentl, the Holocaust TV mini-series in 1978 followed. I’ve played eight Jewish heroines, one example being a recurring role as defense attorney Danielle Melnick on the Law & Order series. These are great roles and it doesn’t matter to me whether they are Jewish or not, I’m an actress.”

Tovah is a six-time Emmy and Tony nominee.

“I’ve never had the chance to work with composer Stephen Sondheim nor director Sam Gold. And I would like to work again with director Alex Timbers. My plan is to be like Betty White and work into my nineties!”

More from Our Sister Sites